Policy Forum for Ireland

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Next steps for improving mental health in Ireland - Sharing the Vision strategy implementation, prevention and positive mental health, care across the lifecycle, and the impact of COVID-19

Morning, Monday, 25th January 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will discuss the priorities for implementing the new mental health policy plan for Ireland, the Sharing the Vision strategy, and the provision of mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth and the Department of Health.

The background to the discussion:

  • Sharing the Vision: A Mental Health Policy for Everyone - the new mental strategy, presented as outcomes-focussed with a lifecycle approach to address mental health across the whole population and aiming to put the patient at the centre of care and delivery
  • funding - announcements in the recent Budget of €38m for implementation of Sharing the Vision national strategy and €4bn extra in total for health services
  • First 5 - the government strategy for health and wellbeing of Ireland’s youngest children and their families, with initiatives on family support, child-friendly communities and health and care services
  • The Keep Well campaign - a range of new government initiatives to support mental and physical for individuals and communities

Key areas for discussion:

Strategy implementation

  • governmental coordination - priorities for how different departments can work more closely together to enable the Strategy to deliver transformation in mental health
  • funding - assessing priorities for implementation of the policy, and the ability to meet the short, medium and long term goal, as well as responding to increased demand in the wake of the pandemic
  • the Implementation Roadmap - with discussion expected on outcome indicators, service alignment, assignment of agency ownership to recommendations, timeframe targets and the actions required to meet some of the more far-reaching recommendations
  • policy coordination - looking at how:
    • Sharing the Vision fits in with wider health policy in Ireland, as the Sláintecare 10 year programme and vision for healthcare in Ireland reaches its third year in 2021
    • the mental health policy builds on and supports the goals within Sláintecare as it looks to improve access to patient centred care

Care across the lifecycle

  • children - assessing approaches to support mental health through childhood, including:
    • early years - mothers and families with perinatal mental health, and realising the aim for babies, young children and their parents to enjoy positive mental health
    • through the pandemic - supporting children and young people to access mental health services and the role of schools and other education in health promotion
    • the Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice - assessing the Department of Education preventative, whole-school approach, with wellbeing a key factor in a child’s education
  • elderly mental health and loneliness - the way forward for taking a patient-centred approach, including medication plans, living arrangements, social prescribing and managing isolation and the further impacts accentuated by the COVID-19

Prevention and health promotion

  • early intervention - latest thinking on opportunities and strategies, with health promotion and preventing mental health concerns at an early stage being a key focus for the plan
  • population health - increasing its use to identify at-risk groups and put in place mechanisms and interventions to create resilience and promote positive mental health
  • public engagement - how to improve people’s attitude towards mental health and encourage people to seek support when they need it
  • service innovation during the pandemic - with increased demand for mental health services and support, and delivery of services remotely, what can be learned from the use of digital technology and new approaches to service delivery that can help improve access to specific groups, and what more can be done for those who are digitally excluded

Improving care and access

  • patient-centred care - developing its use, and a better understanding of patients lifestyles, so that care is personalised and more effective in meeting patient needs
  • joined-up provision - making improvements in the continuity of care and managing the transition of patients between services
  • support within primary care - addressing concerns of an over-reliance on specialist mental healthcare, priorities for scaling up the role of primary care and improving access, including:
    • the funding required
    • improving capacity for autism and other specialised conditions
    • how care can be better integrated and collaboration improved across primary and specialist care to ease and inform patient transition between specialist and primary care
    • how digital interventions can help build capacity within primary care
  • community and voluntary services - their role of in providing support for recovery and how they can be a key part of integrated mental health care

Dealing with COVID-19

  • impact - on service delivery, and ways provision has adapted, as well as priorities for service recovery and key learnings for the implementation of the mental health policy 
  • innovation - support methods that have been developed and adopted, including delivering mental health support remotely and utilising data to make informed decisions and plans
  • increased demand - what can learned to help prepare for new expected peaks
  • pressures on staff - supporting the mental health workforce to deliver care through the pandemic, as well as the provision of mental health support to the wider health workforce
  • vulnerable groups - special requirements for identifying need and supporting
  • public health - effective messaging to the wider population on around mental wellbeing
  • long term effects - dealing with the impact into the future on mental health and service provision

The agenda:

  • Priorities for improving mental health and implementing the Sharing the Vision policy
  • Key considerations for strategy implementation - funding, collaboration and the impact of COVID-19
  • Supporting mental health across the lifecycle - perinatal and child mental health, supporting at risk groups, and addressing loneliness and elderly mental health
  • Promoting positive mental health, prevention and accessing at risk groups
  • Improving access to mental health services - integration, patient-centred care, primary care support, and using digital interventions

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth and the Department of Health.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of the Oireachtas and senior officials from Government of Ireland, regulators and other agencies, senior leaders from health and social care, local authorities, representatives from the medical colleges and other professional bodies and trade unions, health charities and third sector, pharmaceutical companies, housing associations, patient advocacy groups and charities, consultancies and academics, commentators, legal and financial specialists, as well as reporters from the specialist, and national media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Jim Ryan

Head of Operations, Quality and Service Improvement, Health Service Executive

Mary Butler TD

Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Department of Health


Colm Burke TD

Member, Committee on Health


Elaine Austin

Chief Executive Officer, Pieta House

Michael Hayes

Deputy General Secretary, Psychiatric Nurses Association of Ireland

Bill Hill

Chief Executive Officer, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity

Dr Joseph Duffy

Chief Executive Officer, Jigsaw

Aine Macken-Walsh

Senior Research Officer, Teagasc

Fiona Coyle

Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Reform

Beatrice Dooley

President, Institute of Guidance Counsellors

Dr Margaret O'Riordan

President, Irish College of General Practitioners

Professor Rose Kenny

Professor Of Medical Gerontology, Trinity College Dublin

Deirdre McHugh

Regional Director, National Educational Psychological Service

Martin Rogan

Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Ireland

Dr William Flannery

President, College of Psychiatrists of Ireland